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The Soapbox Filipina | October 23, 2019

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What is a Sari Sari Store to Filipinos like Me (Part ONE) - The Soapbox Filipina

What is a Sari Sari Store to Filipinos like Me (Part ONE)
Pier Angeli B. Ang Sen

Sari Sari Store

In the Philippine setting, the small variety store found in the community, is called a Sari Sari store.

Arguably, sari sari stores are scattered everywhere in the Philippines, despite the presence of convenience stores like the Seven-Eleven and the Mini Stop.

You won’t miss them.

It is because sari sari stores are enclosed with a screen cover —or if necessary, metal bars ( as if the owner is under house arrest).

sari sari

ang sari sari sa aming barangay

Sari Sari Storefront Sign

The sari-sari store is not just called “tindahan”, alone.

It has a name.

You just don’t say, “go to the sari-sari store” but you go to the, tindahan ni Aling Nena or ila Nang JingJing.

The store name signage is either set on fabric signing or painted plywood. It is usually provided by either brands like Tide, Coke or Pepsi or R.C.

The brand’s logo and tagline are found on the signage, as a result of the sponsorship by the brands.

It is commonplace however, that the sari-sari store can be popularly called with another name.

As it was in my barangay, mean residents at the barangay, may name the store after the physical appearance of its owner or its tindera.

In other words, despite the huge bold printed storefront sign, the store name, may be overshadowed with “Ila Budlat , ila Baki or ila Tambok”.

Or maybe ila “Ulo Bokak”.

” Ulo Bokak” would hypothetically imply that somehow, something is going on sa Ulo ( head) ni ( of) Bokak.
That or Ulo Bokak is a childhood moniker derived from the 1990s movie Robo Cop.

So much so that, anyone just visiting the barangay and taking directions from the manang sweeping along the roadside(…the entire day —that is how it was in my time) , would wonder greatly, how he could not have seen the store when he passed by every store in the barangay.

Sanchez Store. Maribie Store. Or Jhun-Jhoy store.

Ultimately, none of the signs said, Ila Budlat or Ila Ulo Bokak.”

( Aha ba kini tindahan nila Budlat or Ulo Bokak?)

What makes up a Sari Sari Store?

First and foremost, a sari sari store sells items which are generally used for daily consumption.

Therefore, the items are in retail packaging like sachets, packets, match boxes and small plastic containers.

Or as it was in my time, when oil and ga-as was sold per scoop, —you have to bring your own container.

( I used to buy per scoop “takos” when we used to live in Pacana Burgos. “Tag pila ang takos sa inyo mantika Nang?” or was it ginamos)

The sari sari store usually sells:

  1. 3 in one instant Coffee
  2. Candies in ball jars
  3. Conditioner
  4. Knorr Cubes
  5. Vetsin
  6. Iodized salt


At the same time, the store may sell ice water or ice candy.

The store may have a pay phone.


They may or may not sell “load ” (or as the prepaid subscribers of this generation call them, phone credits).

In additon to that, the dog or cat of the owner is a common fixture at the frontage.

sari sari store

sari sari store


The Traits of a Sari Sari Store Shop Keeper

The owner, who is either a Nanay ( a mom) or a Lola (a grandmother) usually mans (err, womans) the store.

It may usually have a tindera or tindero who is either one of her children or her nephews or nieces. ( who may also have the uncanny ability of making kupit from the barya)

Meanwhile, it is rare however that the sari sari store would have a tindero.

Usually, the guys are those who carry the sack of rice, or ang mga taga carga ng case ng beer—dala inom.

Besides, as it is anywhere, a female frontline is aesthetic for business .

Even so, the shop keeper of a Sari-Sari Store has to be the kindest. Or she has amnesia.

(yung puedeng utangan at yung makakalimutin, yung tipong may edad na)

 please continue here-part two


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